Tennessee football: Ranking all 15 Vols non-Saturday openers

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It’s not everyday Tennessee football opens up the season on a day that’s not Saturday. In fact, over a period of 87 years in the 20th century, only one time did the Vols not open the season on a Saturday. Hey, that’s when college football is supposed to happen. However, the Vols aren’t new to opening on other days.

Since the start of the 21st century, they have increased the frequency of these openers. Of the 15 times the Vols have not opened on a Saturday, six came this century, and four came in the past 10 years. In fact, nine of those 15 games came this century or before 1900.

Well, the Vols are set to do it again, facing the Ball State Cardinals to open 2022. In this post, we’ll compare all of their past such outings based on how memorable they were. Winning or losing, quality of opponent and excitement of the game are all huge factors. Here’s a ranking of Tennessee football’s non-Saturday openers.

Thursday will mark the 16th time the Tennessee football Volunteers have opened a season on a day other than Saturday.

September 1, 2008; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins wide receiver Dominique Johnson (center) is bought down by Tennessee Volunteers defensive back Marsalous Johnson (31) and linebacker Adam Myers-White (48) in the second half at the Rose Bowl. UCLA defeated Tennessee 27-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

15. 2008

Tennessee Volunteers
UCLA Bruins

Monday, Sept. 1; Rose Bowl; Pasadena, Calif.

There’s only one non-Saturday opener the Vols ever lost, and it was the beginning of the end for Phillip Fulmer. UT was coming off winning the SEC East and a top 12 finish. They were entering a new era with Jonathan Crompton replacing Erik Ainge at quarterback and Dave Clawson taking over for David Cutcliffe at offensive coordinator.

With the Vols leading 14-10 through three quarters, both teams traded touchdowns late in the fourth. UCLA scored another one with 27 seconds left. The Vols drove down to get a quick field goal as time expired, but Daniel Lincoln missed a potential game-tying field goal in overtime.

Rick Neuheisel won his first game as UCLA’s coach that day. The flaws in the dynamics of Clawson’s offense given Fulmer’s philosophy would become evident later. In this game, Tennessee football just had poor play-calling, as they averaged over five yards a carry but threw it 42 times. This launched a 5-7 season and was their last week in the top 25 until 2012.

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